Thoughts on Miracle Mindednesson the Occasion of the One-Year Anniveraryof the East Japan Earthquake, Tsunami, and Ongoing Nuclear Disaster
At 2:46 pm on March 11, our world was forever changed. In the hours, days and weeks following 3/11, the entire world was riveted on the suffering of Japan: the earthquake, the tsunami that followed, and now the growing nuclear crisis. Many of us in NY, especially those with friends and family in Japan, watched internet reports for hours on end, tried desperately to reach loved ones over overwhelmed and inoperative communication lines, watched in horror the clips of the giant black wave rolling over the land, waited breathlessly for news of the next big aftershocks and spreading radiation.
We initially felt so helpless and scared and frozen, but we knew that our neighbors in Japan were experiencing the same horrors up close and in person, and they were having to actually deal with them, to take action right away, to live through each moment, make life and death decisions about where to go, where to get water and food, what to eat or not to eat, how to find missing loved ones, how to make it to the next day, not even knowing whether the next day would bring any improvements or fresh disasters.
Amid all the stories of catastrophe, there were, in the words of ACIM teacher Greg Mackie, “signs of light in the darkness,” so many beautiful examples of selfless service and generosity seen in responses to the disaster. Many people have remarked that the disaster brought out in the Japanese people the very best of humanity.
Anne Thomas, in her March 13 Letter from Sendai, writes, “Somehow at this time I realize from direct experience that there is indeed an enormous Cosmic evolutionary step that is occurring all over the world right at this moment. And somehow as I experience the events happening now in Japan, I can feel my heart opening wide. My brother asked me if I felt so small because of all that is happening. I don’t. Rather, I feel as part of something happening that is much larger than myself. This wave of birthing (worldwide) is hard, and yet magnificent.”
Research into centuries of disasters all over the world shows that
The vast majority of people, when a disaster hits, behave in the aftermath as altruists. They organize spontaneously to save their fellow human beings, to share what they have, and to show kindness. They reveal themselves to be better people than they ever expected.
It’s often implied that kindness and generosity are naïve, idealistic fictions that will always be trumped by self-interest and greed. But when the stakes are highest, the opposite is the case. When everything else is stripped away, when the buildings fall and the seas rise, we remember all that really matters is caring for each other (Johann Hari, UK Independent).
If disasters inspire this kind of loving response then perhaps we should all go into what Makie calls “permanent disaster-relief mode” or what we might call Perpetual Miracle Mindedness.
Greg Mackie again: “We don’t have to wait for a ‘disaster’ as we define it to go into this mode. …Life on earth, with occasional inspiring exceptions, is an ongoing state of disaster. The ‘big’ disasters like 3/11 in Japan are just more extreme versions of the same dynamics that run our world every day.
“Of course, each one of us has our own part to play in relieving the larger disaster engendered by the ego’s rule. We are called to be miracle workers, extending selfless service to our brothers and sisters wherever we are. The form this takes is unique for each of us. Most often miracles take the form of ‘little’ words and deeds of kindness, love, and courtesy toward others—like Japanese people opening their homes to people needing water and going door to door to see if everyone is okay. This is something we all can do, in our own small way, every day. Simply try to respond to each and every moment with love. So let’s resolve, this time, not to let the moment of inspiration pass.”
— Mackie quotes excerpted from “The Crisis in Japan: A Call for “Permanent Disaster-Relief Mode”